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North West Golf Club
Dec 02, 2021
In Members Chat
EGM regarding Greenway held 7th November 2021 in clubhouse. Present: J McFadden, J Mallon, G Harkin, D Doherty, K Cooley, P O’ Hea, H Duffy, M Roulston, E O’Connell, S Mc Grory, C Doherty, L Hegarty, F Mc Hale, T Moore, A Neff, R Williamson, M McGeough, M Mc Laren, L McGettigan, N Allen, M O’Hea, A O’Neill, E Mc Manus, W Devine, P J Mc Carron Apologies: E Walker, P Mc Myler, S Mc Ginley, E Hillick, K Daly Mr President Jimmy Mc Fadden chaired the meeting. He stated that anyone present must be vaccinated or/and comply with Covid 19 protocols and legislation. He also stated that A1 and A2 members were entitled to attend. He declared the meeting open, welcomed everyone and invited the Captain John to address the meeting. John thanked those present for attending. He stated that the purpose of the meeting was to share with members, information regarding the Greenway (GW) Project and the potential impact on Northwest Golf Club. He asked members to hold questions until the presentations were complete. At this point a query was raised as to the status of the meeting since there was not a quorum to hold an EGM. The Secretary explained that NWGC constitution simply stated that Council could call an EGM as considered necessary. However, as there were no proposals for considerations those present were content to continue as an information meeting. This was accepted. The captain continued to outline some of the considerations which the Northwest Golf Club Council Greenway sub-group had raised with the Greenway representatives. He shared their responses. He stated that the sub group were quite concerned at the present situation and expressed his disappointment at the responses from the Greenway Reps when they stated that liability for injury to Greenway users, struck by errant golf balls, rests with the NWGC alone. He stressed that NWGC must protect our members and the course but it was unreasonable to expect the NWGC to accept sole responsibility for users of the Greenway. In simple terms the projected increased footfall of 200,000 per year will increase risk of damage and/or injury and will, in all likelihood, see an increase in our insurance premium and potentially a drop in membership (members leaving to play elsewhere). The captain referred to a written submission (attached below) from Mr John Logue, Civil Engineer and Health and Safety consultant, on the legal requirements placed on designers and promoters of a development. This was a very comprehensive piece of work which will be shared (permission required) with those present. Captain explained that we are now at the business end of discussions as the Greenway Project prepares to submit their planning application. He then passed to Damien, Head Greenkeeper, who has been involved in all meetings with various Greenway representatives since its inception. Damien, Head Greenkeeper, provided an extensive Power Point presentation which covered; the history of the club, the holes were risk is highest, work undertaken, potential impact and what may be needed to reduce the risk of injury from errant golf balls. Presentation Link https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0?ui=2&ik=f131a2de1b&attid=0.1&permmsgid=msg-f:1715686132717440137&th=17cf577296afcc89&view=att&disp=inline This was further supported by the written narrative provided by Course designer Pat Ruddy. (Attached below) The Secretary then presented his analysis of the current situation stating that the Greenway was high on the political agenda and this project will be pushed forward by the promoters. He explained the position with local politicians where they supported the Greenway and some of whom will not engage with objectors. He then went on to state a number of issues that have arisen from the project. The GW has carried out an environmental assessment re birds and wildlife which has not been shared with us. The GW, at the beginning of the year, asked NWGC to get quotations for a risk assessment but then reneged on the costs submitted of €5/6 K offering €2.5K which they know is insufficient. The GW reps have also held up the Halting site coming into the ownership of NWGC as a major benefit to the club. However this will bring its own difficulties. 200,000 users where will they park? In the carpark and we will have full responsibility for any injury /or damage? How can we ensure our members have access to the carpark? While GW has no responsibility. The Secretary put forward the following points: NWGC did not seek nor invite the Greenway project. We endeavoured to support the Greenway Project but the approach of the GW has been to render this impossible. We have asked for a risk assessment to be carried out by an independent relevant professional whom the GW can engage if so wished. We asked for the costs of reducing any risk identified to be met by the Greenway Project We requested full cost recovery for any costs and/or losses to the club. We seek compensation for any increased insurance costs due to increased footfall and subsequent increased risk. Evidence suggests that the Greenway project will be imposed upon the NWGC as none of our concerns over the past few years of meetings as well as written and verbal correspondence have been given due consideration. We have told that some financial support may be available following Granting of planning permission at the Compulsory purchase and accommodation cost stage. Yet without a risk assessment we have no idea what these costs might be. As it stands the Greenway project and the NWGC cannot co- exist on grounds of Health & Safety which the GW fail to recognise, rather they choose to ignore. This may threaten the very existence of our club. The meeting was then opened for questions and suggestions. Members stated very clearly that they are very concerned about the impact of the Greenway Project on the NWGC. They thanked the sub group for their diligence in dealing with what is a very serious issue and the lack of support from the promoters of the GW project. The work carried out by the sub group was very much appreciated however it was suggested that now may be the time to take our concerns to the next level and engage with a Barrister and other professionals in the field of Planning. The members present agreed on the following areas where advice must be sought immediately and objections to the Planning application compiled and submitted in due course. Insurance & Risk Assessment ---- re errant golf balls, increased footfall and removal of “buffer zones” Road Traffic layout and safety --- re increased usage, entrance and exit from carpark. Environmental impact re interference with hedging in and around the periphery of the course. Anne O Neil, Hugh Duffy, Seamus Mc Ginley and Marcus Roulston offered to assist as part of the sub group and relieve the pressure on the current office bearers. This offer was warmly welcomed. Finally, it was agreed that there is the potential for many physical and psychological benefits for users of the Greenway Project and economic benefits for local businesses. NWGC support these outcomes however not at the expense or demise of the NWGC. Consequently we must do all we can to protect the NWGC as well as the health & safety of our members and visitors. The President thanked club’s sub group for their work this far and members for their attendance and input into what was a very lively and worthwhile information session. He also thanked Mr. Pat Ruddy, Golf Course Architect and Mr. John Logue, Civil Engineer & Health & Safety consultant for their submissions (attached below). This concluded the discussion and the meeting closed. Gerard Harkin Honorary Secretary Attached submissions follow below: SAFETY PROFESSIONALS LTD. To NWGC members Re: Impact of North West Greenway Network on the North West Golf Club, Lisfannon, Fahan, Co Donegal. - Safety concerns. I have been asked to review the design and layout of the proposed North West Greenway along the eastern boundary of North West Golf Club (NWGC). Firstly, it is my understanding that the North West Golf Club welcome the proposed North West Greenway (Cycling and Walking) Network and all of the Environmental, Social and Economic benefits that will be gained for the region. However, the clubs concern is, regarding the safety of the interface between the users of the Greenway and the Golf club. The route and the current proposals are estimated to bring up to two hundred thousand users to the Greenway per year into an obvious hazard zone, with a high risk of being struck by golf balls. The roadside holes 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 will be a cause of concern. Under civil law, as citizens and organisations, we all have a 'duty of care' to each other. Under statute law, owners and designers have a duty to eliminate hazards or provide suitable and sufficient protection from a hazard via design, during the construction of an amenity or item of infrastructure. I make particular reference to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013. Under this set of regulations, Clients who are having construction work done, must employ competent Designers, Contractors and a Project Supervisor Design Stage (PSDS). The duties of designers within the 2013 Regulations are in addition to those under Section 16 Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. The Act, which is a primary piece of legislation, requires designers to ensure that a project is capable of being constructed safely, that it can be maintained and used safely and complies with all relevant health and safety legislation. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 cleariy state that a Designer and the PSDS must: • Identify any hazards that their design may present. Where possible, eliminate the hazards or reduce the risk. Ensure that the work of designers is coordinated to ensure safety. Take account of the 'General Principles of Prevention.' The 'General Principles of Prevention.' are laid out in Regulation 15 of the 2013 regulations. The Principles of Prevention are a hierarchy of risk elimination. Paragraph 4.1.3 of the 'Guidelines on the Procurement, Design and Management Requirements of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013' from the Health and Safety Authority states. 'Eliminating hazards and reducing risk, if feasible, at design stage is the first step in managing safety and health on construction projects. All designers must take into account the existing hazards on a project relevant to areas of concern and consider these with respect to the potential new hazards generated by the design process for construction workers, end users, and members of the public.' A copy of the above guidance document is available from www.hsa.ie/eng/Your Industry/Construction/. Similar regulatory requirements are replicated in N. Ireland due to the European Directives that the regulations have emerged from. I could continue to outline the duty to eliminate and reduce risk by design; however, all is clearly set out in the legislation and guidance from the Health and Safety Authority. I believe it is in the interests of both users of the Greenway and members of the North West Golf Club that the design of the North West Greenway Network is revisited and amended so as to prevent any possible injuries through errant golf balls to the users of the Greenway Network. This may require the relocation of the Greenway away from the boundary of the golf course, or the provision of measures to protect the users of the Greenway from hazards encountered by the Greenway location. The North West Golf Club and course is a major amenity in the Buncrana region since 1891 and has an established heritage as a founding member of the Golfing Union of Ireland. Without design mitigations, the North West Greenway Network location adjacent to the boundary of the golf course, may pose a major risk to the future of the golf club. The club has successfully battled with nature over the years to protect the fairways from the sea erosion, however this proposed man-made encroachment may have major implications for the golf club, local employment and regional tourism. I would therefore suggest that the club asks North West Greenway Network owners and designers to comply with the mandatory legislative requirements as outlined above and develop a design for the Greenway that protects the life and limb of users of the cycle/footpath and the future of the North West Golf Club. As potential neighbours and for the benefit of all within the North West region, the club, over a number of years, have engaged in discussions with Greenway representatives in the planning for the potential project. It is my understanding that the club wishes to have a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Greenway for the foreseeable future, however, I would have concerns that the current proposals could potentially put the future of the club at risk and/or the cost to members becomes unaffordable. The club have already shown a willingness to assist and engage with the project in its design and construction by obtaining three tenders, at the request of the Greenway, from course architects but unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me, have been rejected. North West Golf Club commend the vision of the North West Greenway Network and its €18.5 Million funding across the region. Both should have a shared vision for the safety, health and well-being of our citizens but as stated previously I would be concerned that these risks have not been addressed at the design stage. The NWGC should seek revised proposals from the Greenway regarding your shared boundary and future. A statutory duty exists regarding the design of the Greenway, and it should be implemented. Yours sincerely John Logưe b$c CEng PgDIP MICE CMIOSH Chartered Civil Engineer & Health and Safety Consultant. November 4, 2021 Dear Golfers of North West Golf Club, Thank you for asking my opinion on the threat posed to your lovely and historic links by a proposed greenway running along your fairways 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. My reply: - Simply - A Disaster Threatens. What is proposed is the desecration of a monument and living national treasure. In pursuit of a new amenity the promoters of a greenway show zero regard for the historic and beautiful nature of your golf links which dates back to 1891 and has always served, and still does, the local community and Irish golf magnificently. They may as well plan a walkway through their choice of the most prominent national monuments showing zero regard for history and the already perfect utilisation of land for the common good. In my letter of September 28, 2018 (copy enclosed) my thoughts touched upon the great role that the North west links has played in world golf and in Irish golf through the production of great champions. It also referred to the heroic recovery made by the North West club from three savage onslaughts of the Atlantic Ocean which swept away famous golf holes only to see the club hunch its muscles and march on. In this letter I wish to set down some headlines concerning the likely negative outcomes should a greenway proceed as presented. I hope that the promoters think again. Proceed with their brave plan but in a way that does not destroy a marvellous Irish institution of landscape artistry and sporting and community endeavour. It has to be possible for the old and the new to co-exist without damaging each other. HERE ARE SOME OF MY MAIN THOUGHTS on factors which must be included for consideration when debating a greenway- SAFETY - The introduction of a greenway as currently visualised will invite a great many people into a newly created DANGER ZONE. Walkers, cyclists and those resting along the way will be brought into conflict with errant golf balls which might currently find a peaceful resting place in the impenetrable undergrowth in what has been for many decades a buffer zone. Fencing or caging would be required and to be installed at the expense of the greenway promoters who would also accept sole and total liability in perpetuity for maintenance of the protective structures and for any accidents arising. See also TRESPASS below. SEWAGE - While the desire for a greenway is understood such a project would seem to be less urgent than the rectification of the scandal and health risks surrounding the release of raw sewage at eight Donegal locations as reported by the EPA in November 2021- Burtonport, Coolatee, Falcarragh, Kerrykeel, Kilcar, Moville, Rathmullan and Ramelton. Public resources can hardly be limitless at this time of Covid and it would seem fair to say that essentials relating to health and safety should be prioritised. Thus leaving the county with an historic and lovely golf links undamaged... a win win outcome.... while the time gained could be used to find a less damaging route for a greenway. SPACE IS SCARCE The North West links is a masterpiece of design miniaturisation with the frequent walk-backs from greens to the next tees making double use of land and making possible golf to a scale suitable for playing modern amateur championship golf. Just how small is the site? A) The links measures just on 84-acres. B) At the Fahan end, in the area of the sixth tee the land measures just 65-metres from the road to the ocean; C) At the Buncrana end, in the area of the tenth green the land measures just 85-metres from the road to the ocean. To take anything away from the links is to put it in great jeopardy. As there is every prospect that the Atlantic will prove itself an enemy again at some future date it is imperative that not an inch is lost on the inland side. It would be marvellous to see this masterpiece of golf architecture and history survive intact, with a little space to retreat into if or when the Atlantic attacks again, with golfers - WHO ARE PEOPLE AND WALKERS, TOO - with a lovely greenway at a slight remove. WATER & FLOODING - The North West Golf Club links is sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Fahan to Buncrana road. Surface water running off the road has contributed to flooding on parts of the links. The introduction of a hard-surfaced greenway will increase and accelerate the flow of waters onto the links and all the more so if the vegetation and permeable soils are stripped from the existing buffer zone between the links and the road. Water which now soaks in the buffer zone will simply run onto the golf links and more regularly overwhelm the drainage there. If a greenway goes ahead it is imperative that provision is made for the disposal of flood waters in a way that does not damage the golf. TRESPASS - The golf links has been free from trespass from the road to the oceanfront by reason of the deep vegetation in the buffer zone between the road and the golf links. Should the buffer zone be stripped of vegetation and levelled an invitation to trespass could be created. The promoters of the greenway should provide protective fencing/barriers to prevent trespass and undertake to maintain these in perpetuity with the golf club having the right to demand performance. WILDIFE & NATURE - The golf links has been battered by Atlantic storms and lost several holes to the ocean in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Still the club soldiered on and produced enjoyable golf and a litany of great champions. The fame of the North West Golf Club, already recognised as one of the greatest of Irish golf clubs, grew in the face of these challenges and all the best players in the country rallied to play in events there to show their admiration and support. The links is essentially compressed against the road and while it boasts beautifully heaving sand hillocks and swales it offers little by way of cover and refuge for wildlife. In fact, from the Ocean to the backs of the houses on the inland side of the road there is hardly enough vegetation to hide a hare other than in the buffer zone along the road. The importance of the buffer zone between the road and the fairways can hardly be overstated and it should be cherished and protected. PICNIC & CAMPING FACILITIES- In the interest of safety and the preservation of the historic tranquillity of the golf links there should be no provision for picnic sites, seating, viewing or camping sites along a greenway where it runs alongside the golf links. Public toilets and shelters should be similarly located away from the golf links. I am certain that a way will be found to accommodate the best of everything for the wonderful county of Donegal. Just do not rip down as you build up. Sincerely to All, PAT RUDDY ************************* PAT RUDDY GOLF DESIGNS
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